Daily Israel Report

First Temple-Era Water Tunnel Revealed in Jerusalem

A 3,000-year-old tunnel has been revealed in the ancient City of David. It may have been used during King David's conquest of Jerusalem.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 10/30/2008, 11:59 AM / Last Update: 10/30/2008, 2:15 PM

Israel News Photo: (file)

A tunnel built thousands of years ago – and which may even have been used during King David's conquest of Jerusalem – has been uncovered in the ancient City of David, just outside the Old City and across the street from the Dung Gate.

 

Renowned Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazer, who is leading the dig, revealed the findings from the discovery Thursday morning at an archaeological symposium at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

 

Mazer, who also uncovered King David's palace, has led the world in ancient Jerusalem findings. Some of her other discoveries have included proof of another Biblical story, in the Book of Jeremiah. A completely intact seal impression, or "bula," bearing the name Gedaliahu ben Pashur was uncovered. The bula is actually a stamped engraving made of mortar. Mazer also found a second such impression not far away, as as well as the remnants of a wall from the prophet Nechemia.

 

The archaeologist said there is a high probability that the tunnel is the one referred to as the "tsinor" in the Biblical story of King David's conquest of Jerusalem (Samuel II, 5:6-8; Chronicles I, 11:4-6).

 

"The new discoveries in the excavations in the City of David illuminate the ancient history of Jerusalem and the reality described in the Bible," she noted.

 

Ancient Engineering, Lasting Technology

The opening to the 3,000-year-old tunnel was found earlier this year during the ongoing excavations at the site. The tunnel itself is located under a mammoth stone building that was previously identified as King David's palace, built some time during the 10th century B.C.E., according to the Gregorian calendar.

 

Barely wide enough to allow a single person through, the walls of the passage were apparently created partly by carving rough stones, partly by making use of the existing bedrock. Only the first 50 meters are accessible at present, since the tunnel is filled with fallen rocks and debris, said Mazer.

 

Whole, undamaged oil lamps that were characteristic of the First Temple period were found on the floor of the tunnel during the dig.

 

The archaeologist added that the tunnel was probably used to channel water to a pool by the palace, and eventually was converted to an escape passage near the end of the First Temple period. Additional walls were built to block the tunnel from the sight of anyone of the nearby hill and to protect it from debris filtering in.

 

The dig, which is being sponsored by the Shalem Center research institute and the City of David Foundation, was carried out under the academic auspices of the Hebrew University.